Tooth whitening may seem like a modern idea, but it actually goes all the way back to Egypt. Or at least it does according to the Seattle Times’ history of teeth whitening. The reason then is similar to the reason now – whiter teeth are considered to be a sign of higher social status and wealth.
Times have changed a lot, but the desire for white teeth has not. In fact, teeth whitening has grown into a $6 billion dollar industry, as reported by Statista. It’s expected to continue to grow and exceed $8 billion dollars over the next decade. And given the amount of celebrities and influencers touting teeth whitening products, that growth seems reasonable.
It’s clear that tooth whitening is popular, and that there are lots of options to achieve it, but how do you know what’s right for you? We can help clear up the confusion so you can find the best teeth whitening options for you.
Teeth Whitening Options
While there are many tooth whitening products on the market, they all generally fall into two categories: in-office teeth whitening procedures performed by a dentist and at-home products you buy over-the-counter.
Dental Teeth Whitening
In-office tooth whitening by your dentist is an effective way to brighten your smile. It is the most expensive path to take, however, and comes with some risks and side effects. For this reason, it is often less attractive to the average person.
In-office whitening typically involves the use of expensive light equipment that works in conjunction with a special solution applied to your teeth. The solution, usually containing peroxide, is applied to your teeth. Then the dentist applies the special light to whiten your teeth. Sometimes it takes several sessions to achieve the shade you want.
Although it is effective, in-office teeth whitening does have some downsides. For example, the procedure is not very comfortable. For the duration of the treatment, the whitening equipment is in your mouth and your mouth must stay wide open. This isn’t comfortable, especially for people with a strong gag reflex. Also patients sometimes report feeling a buzz or zap feeling for a day or two afterwards.
Sometimes dentists follow up the procedure by prescribing at-home whitening treatments to keep up the effects of the treatment. They also often discourage you from eating and drinking things that can stain your teeth, such as:
- Black tea
- Soft drinks
- Fruit juices
- Tomato-based sauces
DIY At-Home Teeth Whitening
A quick trip to the store will show you just how many at-home teeth whitening options you have available. Many of the products you find fall into the following categories:
- Teeth whitening toothpaste
- Teeth whitening trays
- Teeth whitening strips
Most at-home tooth whitening systems and products use hydrogen peroxide to achieve brighter smiles. This is an effective ingredient, but it can lead to a less natural, or chalky white that may be undesirable.
There is a newer at-home whitening ingredient available which utilizes natural mineral crystals to brighten teeth. WX Formula tooth brightening gel is an example of this new technology. It is peroxide free and more gentle than many over-the-counter products. It is also effective, whitening teeth up to 10 shades lighter without damaging teeth enamel.
Is In-Office Or At-Home Whitening Better?
First, it is important that you talk with your dentist before you try any tooth whitening product. This is especially critical if you have sensitive teeth or tender areas.
In reality, though, the best teeth whitening method depends on a few factors. This includes your personal preferences, time limitations, desired effect and your budget. If you do try in-office teeth whitening, you should ask lots of questions, including asking to see before and after photos.
Your personal preferences really play a large role in your decision. For instance, if you have a particularly strong gag reflex you may want to try an over-the-counter teeth-whitener, skipping the trays in lieu of pastes and brush-on gels.
If you’re not on a budget, don’t mind post-procedure discomfort and are willing to ditch foods and drinks that stain teeth, in-office whitening might be for you.
If you’re interested in taking a daily approach to teeth-whitening, with less harsh and potentially more comfortable methods, at-home teeth-whitening might be the best choice. This is also a good way to maintain results long term.